Getting Past the Personal Blocks: A Self-Improvement Primer

Today’s guest post comes from Melinda Brennan of WAHM Business Builder.

EagleSelf-Improvement. I LOVE self-improvement. I really do. I read my first self-improvement book aged ten (The Power of Positive Thinking by David Schwarz) and I’ve been reading them ever since. And going to personal development seminars, listening to self development tapes; heck, I even became a Coach because it’s something I love doing for myself and helping others do as well.

You’d think I’d be so improved by now that I’d be nearly perfect. I can see you all nodding in agreement. Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I’m not. Shocking isn’t it? All that work and effort for thir…*mumble* years and I’m still not perfect. It’s a bit sad really.

What’s gone wrong with the Self-Improvement that I’ve taken in and studied all these years? Surely there is some fundamental flaw in the methods these books use, some error in the techniques that ‘guarantee’ results, mistaken reasoning behind the philosophies that should improve me?

The thing that is wrong, my friend, the thing that holds me back from being so improved, is simply myself. I hold myself back. I am the barrier to all the achievement and development that I want to become. Me, Myself, and I. For many reasons. And they are the reasons that will hold you back as well.

Change can be really hard. There are a lot of reasons that prevent us from changing and improving. Sometimes change happens in the blink of an eye, a sentence that provokes an instant re-evaluation of our thinking and mindsets. Sometimes. Mostly however, our self-improvement happens one babystep at a time, small actions repeated over and over and over and over. And that can be hard work.

How many of these roadblocks to improvement do you recognise in your own life?

Habits and your Comfort zone. Most of the things we do each day are habits. The way we get out of bed, the way we shower, the food we eat, the words we use. Habits reinforce and enclose our comfort zone. When we decide to change a habit we feel uncomfortable because we’re butting up against that fence around the comfort zone.

Fear. Oh the fear! Fear of failure, fear of success. Fear of change, fear of progress, fear of stagnation. Fear your friends won’t like you any more, fear they’ll only like you if you do change. Fear of the unknown, fear of making an idiot of yourself, fear of…. What’s your fear? What fears stop you?

Why? Why do you want to improve? Is your reason for changing, for improving yourself, strong enough to overcome the resistance you will feel to change? Is it strong enough to keep you going through the hard times?

Motivation and Accountability. Just as you eat food every day, you also need a daily dose of motivation. Being accountable to someone to keep moving forward, to encourage you when it seems like nothing is happening, is essential to long-lasting change.

Age. They (whoever ‘they’ are) say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. I say, tell that to the 87 year old lady who graduated from University here last year. While it’s true that change is more difficult as you age, for various reasons, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. If that’s your ‘reason’ for not changing, then you need to dig deeper for the real reason.

Self-Esteem. A lot of people resist change because they don’t think they’re capable. They’ve been so beaten down by life and people over the years that they can’t see possibilities beyond their current situation. They’re the eagles who continue to live in the chicken coop because they think they’re chickens, because they’ve been conditioned and trained to think as a chicken. They’ve never looked in a clear mirror and seen the eagle and the inherent potential within, just waiting for them to face up and accept it as truth.

The moment for change comes when you decide that you’re not going to allow these things to rob you of what you could be any more. When you see them as simply issues and hangups that are irrelevant. When you get angry at what could be and isn’t, because these roadblocks have stopped you in the past.

I’m not denying that some of these issues are huge and difficult. Some of them are enormous and painful. Generally they’ve been there for years, effectively blocking us and they don’t yield easily when we decide to push past them.

However, at the end of the day, you are the one responsible for making your own change. For deciding when enough is enough and that you are going to do this – no excuses. And when you make that decision, please let me know because I’ll be at the sidelines cheering you on. 🙂

About Melinda

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a Business Coach who helps Work at Home Mums find clarity and direction amongst the chaos of working at home. She’s been coaching for over five years and is a Certified Professional Coach, Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner and Time Line Therapist.

Melinda is a member of the International Coach Federation and Christian Coaches Network, and is President Elect for the Canberra Chapter of the International Coach Federation. You can find her online at WAHM Biz Builder.

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13 thoughts on “Getting Past the Personal Blocks: A Self-Improvement Primer

  1. Great post, Melinda! Really enjoyed it and I felt like I learned a lot — about you and about self-improvement. Thanks!
    .-= Positively Present´s last blog ..the difference between happy and not unhappy =-.

  2. steph says:

    Hi Melinda,

    Well, this is timely for me. The trouble is, I’m aware of the road blocks, particularly self-esteem and fear, for me, and I’m also aware that I’m the only one who can push past them to affect the change I want, but in spite of really desiring the change, I can’t seem to make myself do it. I feel I’m disappointing everyone but mostly myself. My motivation seems strong enough but obviously it’s not, and this confuses me!
    .-= steph´s last blog ..Phobia =-.

  3. Cathy says:

    Hi Melinda,

    This is a great post. And I found myself nodding my head at several points that I recognised have kept me from moving forward in self-development. As you say you are responsible for initiating the change, acknowledging that is hard and often I’ve resisted change because of the enormity of that first step. However, I am determined to improve.
    .-= Cathy´s last blog ..A block of cheddar cheese =-.

  4. […] Getting Past the Personal Blocks: A Self-Improvement Primer …What is the number one obstacle to self-improvement? Melinda Brennan says that it’s oneself and provides a way to get past that block. […]

  5. Thanks Melinda – I am a true believer that we create our own life, in addition to how we respond to the circumstances we face. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy – I’ve had to learn how to develop a number of tools in my personal toolbox to get there – but it can be done. Thanks for the very educational – and insightful – post!
    .-= Laura – The Journal of Cultural Conversation´s last blog ..The Afghan Women’s Writing Project: Interview With Founder Masha Hamilton =-.

  6. @ Laura, yes, I believe we create our own life. Sometimes we need help to work past the cruddy ‘stuff’ that stops us – and that’s where a Coach can really help you.

    @ Cathy, can you break that ‘first step’ down into smaller steps? Sometimes, and I do this myself, what we decide is the first step is actually a lot of steps and they need chunking down. If it is just a single step, then it’s a case of taking a deep breath and just doing it. Then rewarding yourself, patting yourself on the back (yes, literally) and telling yourself how proud you are that you did it (out loud). If you’ve got someone else to do this then that’s even better!

    @ Steph, I read your post on Phobia, and a heap more of your site before coming back to comment. (LOVE the Lusty Weevil Pub!) If the issues are too big to just get over then you really need to get into why they are there. Our subconscious creates these issues in order to protect us at some point of our lives, and then hangs on to them. Generally they’re not helping us any more, and as you’ve discovered it’s actually hurting you. But your subconscious is determined to protect you at all costs. You really need to get to the root of the issues to dig them out.

    What do you think? Feel free to email me if you don’t want to write a public comment.

    @ Positively Present, if you liked this then you’ll like my next post here later this month! I’m going to bare my soul and talk about my own self-improvement journey and what helped bring about the biggest changes. I don’t think that post is going to be as much fun to write as this one was. 😉
    .-= Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog ..Create A Project Board =-.

  7. Brad Morris says:

    Glad you mentioned the way some people don’t make progress because they simply don’t have faith in their ability to “pull it off”.

  8. Alex Fayle says:

    Yes, we can be our own worst enemy at times, eh?

  9. […] mentioned in the comments of my last post here, Getting Past the Personal Blocks: A Self-Improvement Primer, that my next post was going to be about my own self-improvement journey. This is about where I […]

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  13. I am surprised to read after all the self improvement education that you learned you are not perfect. I believe we all have faults and things that hold us back. Just knowing what keeps us from improving is half the battle.

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